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China Doubles US Rare Earth Ore Purchases to Highest Level in History

Mining industry / North America / Asia

Government stimulus to China's auto industry has been the main driver for the growth in demand for rare earth metals.

China Doubles US Rare Earth Ore Purchases to Highest Level in History

Chinese imports of rare earth ores from the United States in October increased 81% year-on-year, a record since China began exporting scarce metals from the United States in 1995.

The surge was mainly due to increased demand for rare earth magnets from China's recovering auto industry, supported by government stimulus packages for domestic economic development.

China's purchases of rare earth metal ores in the United States rose from 5,148 tonnes in October 2019 to 9,340 tonnes in October 2020, with an average import price up 64% to US $ 1,977 per tonne.

In January-October, China imported 58,381 tons of rare earth metal ore from the United States, up 55 percent from 37,637 tons a year earlier, with average import prices rising 18 percent to $ 1,540 per ton. p>

Almost all imports of rare earth metal ores were bought out by the Chinese rare earth separation producer Shenghe Resources. The company resumed production at its separation plant in Leshan at the end of October after it was closed in mid-August due to flooding.

The only rare earth mine in the United States in Mountain Pass, California, has closed twice - in 2002 and 2015 - due to inefficiencies caused by low prices in the Chinese market. It was then acquired by an American consortium funded by the Chinese Shenghe Resources Holding. The enterprise resumed production in 2018 and ships all of the mined ore to China for processing and beneficiation.

China's total imports of rare earth oxides and carbonate ores fell 14% year-on-year to 23,981 tonnes in January-October, while average import prices rose 114% to $ 13,733 per tonne. </p >

China accounts for about 36.7% of the world's known reserves of rare earth metals and 70.6% of the world's production of these metals.

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